(PER : HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE J.B.PARDIWALA) By this writ application filed in public interest, the writ applicant has prayed for the following reliefs:
"[A] Hon'ble Court may be pleased to direct the respondent No.2 to order all contractors to daily upload videos of process of collecting Garbage from the residence of COVID- 19 patients including the people who came from foreign countries, quarantine homes and quarantine centers set up by the respondent No.1 complying the guidelines issued by the respondent No.2 while issuing work order on official website of respondent No.2.
Alternatively Hon'ble Court may be pleased to direct the respondent No.2 to appoint surveillance officers in each zone for effective compliance of guidelines issued by the respondent No.2 by Page 1 of 12 Downloaded on : Tue Feb 23 22:54:35 IST 2021 C/WPPIL/71/2020 ORDER the contractors while collecting Garbage from the residence of COVID-19 patients including the people who came from foreign countries, quarantine homes and quarantine centers set up by the respondent No.1.
[B] Grant such other and further relief/s in terms of prayer clause (AS) above;
[C] Hon'ble Court may further be pleased to order the respondent No.2 to submit the account before this Hon'ble Court showing bill amount disbursed for collecting Garbage from the residence of COVID-19 patients including the people who came from foreign countries, quarantine homes and quarantine centers set up by the respondent No.2 in view of issued issuing work contract and further direct the respondent No.2 to take proper action to get back the disbursed amount from the contractors who have not complied with the said guidelines and taken bill amount form the respondent No.2;
[D] That the Hon'ble Court direct the respondent No.2 to cancel the contract of collecting Garbage from the residence of COVID-19 patients including the people who came from foreign countries, quarantine homes and quarantine centers set up by the respondent No.2 from the defaulted contractors and blacklist them and further impose heavy penalty upon such contractors for not adopting safety measures and not complying with safety guidelines issued by respondent No.2 while issuing work contract in this pandemic COVID-19 position.
[E] Hon'ble Court may further be pleased to direct the respondents to see that safety guidelines issued by respondent No.2 in work order are strictly comply in relation to collection of garbage from the residence of COVID-19 patients including the people who came from foreign countries, quarantine homes and quarantine centers set up by the respondent No.2 [F] Hon'ble Court may be pleased to direct the respondents to file criminal complaint as provided under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 Act or under section 188 of the Indian Panel Code against the person violating the orders and further legal actions be taken against them as Page 2 of 12 Downloaded on : Tue Feb 23 22:54:35 IST 2021 C/WPPIL/71/2020 ORDER prescribed under the Act."
We have heard Mr. Nilay H. Patel, the writ applicant appearing in person and Ms. Manisha L. Shah, the learned Government Pleader appearing for the State respondents. The detailed affidavit in reply has been filed on behalf of the respondent No.2, which reads thus:
"Affidavit-in-reply on behalf of respondent No.2 I, Harshadray J. Solanki, Aged 54 years, working as Director S.W.M. Department with respondent - Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, do hereby solemnly affirm and state on oath as under:
1 I am filing the present affidavit pursuant to the order dated 19.6.2020 passed by this Hon'ble Court. I say that the deponent is competent and authorized to file the present affidavit-in-reply on behalf of the respondent - Corporation. I further say that the deponent has gone through the contents of the captioned petition and the original record of the corporation pertaining to issue involved in the captioned petition. It is submitted that the deponent is not dealing with captioned petition parawise, however, non-dealing with captioned petition parawise may not be construed as if any of the contentions and/or averments made in the captioned petition is accepted by the deponent, save and except which are specifically admitted hereinafter.
2 I say and submit that as statutory authority, the respondent authority has not considered the captioned petition as adversarial litigation. However, the details mentioned hereinafter would make it clear that the grievance raised in the captioned petition is not sustainable under the law and as such, the respondent authorities have acted absolutely in consonance with the provisions of law and considering the prevailing extraordinary situation of COVID-
19, all possible, practical and effective steps are undertaken by the respondent authorities in tune with the guidelines issued by the Central Government as well as the Gujarat Page 3 of 12 Downloaded on : Tue Feb 23 22:54:35 IST 2021 C/WPPIL/71/2020 ORDER Pollution Control Board (for short 'the GPCB') with respect to the collection and disposal of garbage, more particularly from the home quarantine families and quarantine centers (COVID Care Centers) in view of present COVID-19 situation. The totality of the fact would suggest that the respondent authorities have not left any stone unturned and all prompt, effective and necessary steps are undertaken so as to avoid any hardship to the citizen and to minimize the danger of existing COVID-19 situation. Thus, the captioned petition filed by the petitioner is devoid of any merit and the proceedings of captioned Public Interest Litigation are required to be dropped accordingly.
3 It is submitted that as the grievance voiced in the captioned petition is confined to day-to-day garbage collection system and disposal thereof, the respondent authorities have confined the details of garbage collection system in the present affidavit.
4 It is submitted that as per existing door to door waste collection system (for short 'D2D'), 866 vehicles are deployed by the answering respondent through various contractors / agencies. These 866 vehicles used to collect day-to-day domestic waste from door to door within city limits of Ahmedabad and average collection of turn per day (TDP) is 1450 MT. Over and about above-referred 866 vehicles, 156 vehicles from spot for garbage collection are working for the purpose of house waste collection. The summary of door to door waste collection system which is in existence irrespective of COVID-19 situation, can be summarized as under:
"Door to Door waste Collection System :
(a) All 866 vehicles of Door to Door waste collection deployed in the city;
(b) Avg.1450 TPD waste is collected in this system.; and
(c) All 156 vehicles for spots garbage collection are diverted to house to house waste collection."
5 It is submitted that over and above the above-referred door to door collection system, more than 10,000 permanent Page 4 of 12 Downloaded on : Tue Feb 23 22:54:35 IST 2021 C/WPPIL/71/2020 ORDER Safai Kamdars are working in the morning and noon hours for cleaning their allotted areas. I say that more than 1500 vehicles (including 866 and 156 vehicles as referred to above) are in operation including 187 refuse compactors, 15 JCBs, 12 bobcat type machines and 50 hywa trucks etc. Further, 55 mechanized sweeper machines are deployed day and night for effective mechanical sweeping of all major roads of city. More than 1600 Safai Kamdars of Residential Welfare Association (RWA) are deployed by the corporation to carry out cleaning activity in all 7 zones of city. The above-referred system apart from door to door waste cleaning system, which is in place irrespective of COVID-19 situation, can be summarized as under :
"Other Systems used for waste collection:
(a) More than 10000 permanent safai karamcharis are starting the work in the morning at their allotted area. In the afternoon safai karamcharis are working in groups wherever required.
(b) More than 1500 waste management vehicles are in operation including 187 Refuse Compactors, 15 JCBs, 12 Bobcat types machines, 50 Hywa trucks, etc.
(c) 55 truck & tractor mounted sweeper machines are deployed day & night for effective mechanized sweeping of all major roads and public area.
(d) More than 1600 safai karmacharis of RWAs are carried cleaning activities in all 7 zones in the night."
7 It is to be noted here that apart from door to door collection system and above-referred collection from the city as well as cleaning process in place, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has appointed two agencies for collection of bio-medical waste in tune with the guidelines and approval of GPCB for collection of bio-medical waste from 5 General Hospitals of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as well as 79 Urban Heath Centers within city Page 5 of 12 Downloaded on : Tue Feb 23 22:54:35 IST 2021 C/WPPIL/71/2020 ORDER limit of Ahmedabad. Before COVID-19 situation, the average collection of bio-medical waste through above-referred two agencies was about 1.2 tons per day which is now increased in view of COVID-19 situation upto 2 to 5 tons per day. Thus, the said two agencies are otherwise over loaded in view of present COVID-19 situation and pandemic situation and, therefore, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation was under immediate need to have yet another agency for proper and scientific collection of garbage from the home quarantine families and quarantine centers (COVID Care Centers).
8 It is submitted that in view of recent extraordinary situation of COVID-19 pandemic, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has find out one qualified agency for collection & transportation of the waste generated from home quarantine families and quarantine centers (COVID Care Centers) as per the guidelines published by the Ministry of Central Pollution Control Board and GPCB. Copies of the guidelines of the GPCB as well as Union of India are annexed hereto and marked as Annexure-R-I Collectively to this reply.
9 It is to be noted here that in view of recent pandemic COVID-19 situation, many families are either self isolated or quarantined, whereas many persons are / were in different COVID Care Center managed by the authorities. Thus, there was immediate need to develop proper scientific system of collection and disposal of the domestic garbage generated through above-referred quarantined families and persons, who are sheltered under different COVID Care Centers. It is submitted that initially, M/s. BL Enviro Engineering (for short 'the agency') was entrusted the task for collection and transportation of domestic garbage from home quarantine families and quarantine centers (COVID Care Centers) within the city limit of Ahmedabad with respect to North- West zone an South-West zone of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. As the said agency was working satisfactory to the authorities, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has appointed the said agency as authorized agency for all 7 zones for the purpose of collection of domestic garbage from home quarantine families and quarantine centers (COVID Care Centers). Copy of the work order in respect of the said agency is annexed hereto and marked as Annexure-R-II to Page 6 of 12 Downloaded on : Tue Feb 23 22:54:35 IST 2021 C/WPPIL/71/2020 ORDER this reply. It would not out of place to mention here that in the initial time of COVID-19 pandemic in March,2020, actually no agency came forward to perform the duty and work of garbage collection from home quarantine families / Houses and quarantine centers (COVID Care Centers), as many drivers and labourers working in original D2D system, got affected in view of COVID-19 situation. It was not proper, practical and/or viable to use existing D2D system for collection of domestic garbage from the home quarantine families and quarantine centers (COVID Care Centers) as if those drivers and helpers working under D2D got infected in majority, the existing door to door collection system with respect to entire city would have collapsed. Therefore, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation had to appoint a separate agency, who would collect door to door garbage from home quarantine families and quarantine centers (COVID Care Centers) in tune with the guidelines issued by the Central Government and GPCB. Therefore, the above- referred work order was issued in prevailing situation and the said agency, namely, M/s.BL Enviro Engineering is working as per the conditions mentioned in the work order and in tune with the prevailing guidelines.
10 It is submitted that as per the work order, the said agency was supposed to have a team of a driver and labourer on each vehicle equipped with PPE kit i.e. germ suit, mask, hand gloves, gumboots etc. 11 It is submitted that average 5 tons per day waste is collected and transported to the nearby transfer station by the agency. The waste collected by the agency would be disposed of scientifically as per the guidelines of the Central Government as well as GPCB. The bio-medical waste amongst the above-referred waste collected from home quarantine families and quarantine centers (COVID Care Centers), is under process of disposal through incineration, whereas other domestic waste is being disposed of at disposal site in tune with the guidelines issued by the Central Government and GPCB. Till date, 397.175 MT waste is collected and disposed of by the agency in tune with the guidelines of the Central Government and the GPCB. Copies of the photographs showing the work undertaken by the agency as well as the summarized details of above-referred collection is annexed hereto and marked as Annexure-R-III Page 7 of 12 Downloaded on : Tue Feb 23 22:54:35 IST 2021 H s v p u S g n a M o t e r i D C/WPPIL/71/2020 Collectively to this reply.
ORDER It is to be noted here that the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has become the first city to start the separate waste collection system on large scale from home quarantine families and quarantine centers (COVID Care Centers).
13 It is submitted that as of now, 22 teams / vehicles of the agency are working for the purpose of collection and transportation of domestic garbage from home quarantine families and quarantine centers (COVID Care Centers) within city limit of Ahmedabad. It is to be noted here that though the work order specifies team of 2 persons i.e. one driver and one labour, the agency has deployed team of four persons i.e. driver, helper, supervisor and manager. The summary of description of process undertaken by the agency in consultation with the officer of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, can be summarized as under :
"DESCRIPTION OF THE PROCESS:
The entire work is distributed in the following 3 process:
[A] [B] [C] [A] Selection of Team Door to Door Collection & transportation of the waste Use of Safety kits & Sanitization Selection of team :
Team comprises of 4 members Supervisor, Driver and Helper.
Managers and supervisors: Agency have Manager, selected manager to look after the safety of staff and ensuring daily collection of waste from all the wards. Manager and supervisors have been working with them for the past 2 decades in the Page 8 of 12 Downloaded on : Tue Feb 23 22:54:35 IST 2021 C/WPPIL/71/2020 ORDER field of waste management. They have experience in handling staff and maintaining cleanliness in major government events such as Vibrant Gujarat, Plast India etc. Supervisors are appointed in every zone of Ahmedabad district as per the suitability.
All the supervisors ensure that the driver and helpers wear all safety gears - PPE throughout the day and provides them with new safety kits every day.
[ii] Drivers & Helpers : Drivers are appointed only after having valid driving license and test drive on the collection vehicle. Having geographical knowledge of the area is also a major factor in selection of the drivers. Helpers are appointed who have been working with agency for past 7-8 years and also having experience in handling of waste.
Person having proper ID proof, age above 18 years, having no medical injuries or diseases are appointed for this work.
Agency also check and ensure the background of the helpers for corona virus positive cases in their vicinity and family members.
[B] Door to Door Collection & Transportation of the waste:
[i] Agency's team along with AMC officials ensures that the waste is collected from all the quarantined houses and centers on daily basis.
[ii] Waste is collected as per the BIOMEDICAL WASTE MANAGEMENT RULES,2016 amended 2018 set by Central Pollution Control Board and guidelines issued for handling & disposal of quarantine waste of Covid-19.
C/WPPIL/71/2020 ORDER [iii] A updated list of collection centres is provided to all supervisors every morning and the waste is collected accordingly.
[iv] Agency has also instructed the quarantined houses that the waste must be packed in a non chlorinated plastic bag with a Biohazard and COVID-19 symbol over it. For that AMC provided 10 specially marked bags per quarantine home with written as 'Covid-19 High Risk Waste' are given for solid waste collection.
[v] Once the collection vehicle reaches the spot, helper gets down and collects the waste bag which is kept outside the house. No direct contact is made with the patient and a safe distance of 2m is maintained. This ensures that the staff is safe from the covid-19 waste and patient.
[vi] This process is done only when the helper has worn all the safety gears.
[vii] Once the waste is collected, driver, helper and supervisor uses hand sanitizer to ensure that no virus is being carried by them and also sanitizer spray are being used on the suit.
[C] Use of Safety Kits and Sanitization:
[i] A safety kit comprises of Cap, Mask, Gloves, Boots and Suit. Every day new safety kit is provided to the staff in the evening and the kit used is sent for safe disposal at the incineration plant under MoU with AMC.
[ii] Once the collection and transportation work is completed, the safety kit used by our staff is sent for incineration where it is disposed as per the BMW Management rules,2016 and 2018.
[iii] Team is provided with new safety kit on daily basis to make sure that they do not carry the virus from one place to another.
C/WPPIL/71/2020 ORDER [iv] The collection vehicle which is used for collection of the COVID-19 waste is sanitized internally as well as externally after reaching at RTS."
14 It is submitted that the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has also appointed zone-wise officers (Environment Engineer) to monitor above-referred collection and transport by the agency. Copy of order of appointment of environment Engineer in each zone by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is annexed hereto and marked as Annexure-R-IV to this reply. Even the GPCB has appointed officers for the purpose. Copy of order passed by GPCB of appointment of officers to monitor collection and disposal of bio-medical waste, more particularly during COVID-19 situation, is annexed hereto and marked as Annexure-R-V to this reply.
15 It is submitted that as per award, the agency would entitled for Rs.6000/- per day per team which includes total expenses of all members of the team. As per prevailing system, the agency is supposed to submit its bill on every 15 days along with satisfactory work certificate of Assistant Director of concerned zone. After the above-referred certification by Assistant Director, the final approval of the Dy. Municipal Commissioner would be necessary for release of payment. The total Rs.16.35 Lakh is paid to the agency till date for the purpose collection and transportation of domestic waste from home quarantine families and quarantine centers (COVID Care Centers). The above- referred work undertaken by the agency is in consonance with the guidelines and the same is under supervision of GPCB and the same is under constant monitoring and control of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. To the good fortune of all concern, due to above-referred safety measures carried out by the agency under the supervision of the authorities, there is no infection of corona virus amongst the staff / team members, who are undertaking the process of collection and transportation of the waste. Thus, the contentions put-forward by the petitioner and the grievances raised by the petitioner, are ill-founded, baseless and the proceedings of captioned petition are required to be dropped."
C/WPPIL/71/2020 ORDER Having gone through the affidavit in reply and also the additional affidavit filed by the writ applicant, we may only observe that the garbage collectors hail from very poor strata of the society. They are an illiterate class of society and may not be able to redress their grievance before the competent authority in a proper manner. Therefore, there should not be any compromise with the safety and care of such garbage collectors. They must be provided with the PPE kits and all other medical appliances for their safety in accordance with the guidelines issued by the AMC. The guidelines issued by the AMC which are at Annexure-Z1 collectively should be scrupulously complied with.
With the above, this writ application stands disposed of.
(VIKRAM NATH, CJ) (J. B. PARDIWALA, J) M.A. SAIYED Page 12 of 12 Downloaded on : Tue Feb 23 22:54:35 IST 2021